8/16/2011 – Criminal defense attorney William Buckman of Moorestown, NJ has filed an appeal to the state’s highest court for John Ray Wilson. The 38 year old man was convicted on the second-degree felony of “manufacturing” marijuana for growing seventeen cannabis plants. Last month an appellate court upheld Wilson’s 5-year prison sentence, saying that he could not claim that the plants were for “personal” use.
John Wilson lives without healthcare and battles the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. His conviction in January 2010 came just as the Garden State’s compassionate use law was passed. However, it was the first medical marijuana law in the country that continues to prohibit home cultivation.
In a press release today Buckman said, “New Jersey already has some of the most draconian laws in the nation with respect to marijuana, costing taxpayers outrageous sums to incarcerate nonviolent, otherwise responsible individuals– as well as in this case — the sick and infirm.”
Local cannabis advocates have supported John, demonstrating in front of the Somerset County Courthouse throughout his trial.
Ken Wolski, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey said, “This case has shocked the conscience of the community. Wilson was unable to present his only defense to the jury–that he used cannabis to treat his multiple sclerosis (MS).”
NJ Governor Chris Christie lifted his suspension of the medical marijuana program in July. But the six Alternative Treatment Centers are not likely to open until 2012. The ATCs have millions of dollars in backing from powerful groups of investors. They will farm thousands of cannabis plants and the sell the products to registered patients, including those with MS.
Wolski pointed out, “These ATCs were not available to John in 2008. Cultivation was the only way that he could afford to gain access. We hope that the Supreme Court will provide justice in this case.”
During his trial, Wilson testified that he told the NJ State Police that he was going to keep all of the marijuana. Wilson also described his medical condition to officers as they searched his home.
Bill Buckman is a member of the national NORML Legal Committee and the immediate past president of the NJ Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a fierce trial lawyer who won a landmark case against the NJ State Police surrounding the the issue of racial profiling in traffic stops.
“As it stands, the case now allows a person who grows marijuana to be exposed to up to 20 years in jail, even if that marijuana is strictly for his or her own medical use,” said Buckman, “No fair reading of the law would ever sanction this result.”
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Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org